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What is an appropropriate response?
Political and philosophical considerations after the attack on the Word Trade Center

The Theatre of Good and Evil

Eduardo Galeano
La Jornada
September 21, 2001
(translated by Justin Podur)

In the struggle of Good against Evil, it's always the people who get

The terrorists killed workers of 50 countries in NYC and DC, in the name of
Good against Evil. And in the name of Good against Evil President Bush has
promised vengeance: "We will eliminate Evil from the world", he announced.

Eliminate Evil? What would Good be without Evil? It's not just religious
fanatics who need enemies to justify their insanity. The arms industry and
the gigantic war machine of the US also needs enemies to justify its
existence. Good and evil, evil and good: the actors change masks, the
heroes become monsters and the monsters heroes, in accord with the demands
of the theatre's playwrights.

This is nothing new. The German scientist Werner von Braun was evil when he
invented the V-2 bombers that Hitler used against London, but became good
when he used his talents in the service of the US. Stalin was good during
World War Two and evil afterwards, when he became the leader of the Evil
Empire. In the cold war years John Steinbeck wrote: "Maybe the whole world
needs Russians. I suppose that even in Russia they need Russians. Maybe
Russia's Russians are called Americans." Even the Russians became good
afterwards. Today, Putin can add his voice to say: "Evil must be punished."

Saddam Hussein was good, and so were the chemical weapons he used against
the Iranians and the Kurds. Afterwards, he became evil. They were calling
him Satan Hussein when the US finished up their invasion of Panama to
invade Iraq because Iraq invaded Kuwait. Father Bush that particular war
against Evil upon himself. With the humanitarian and compassionate spirit
that characterizes his family, he killed more than 100 000 Iraqis, the vast
majority of them civilians.

Satan Hussein stayed where he was, but this number one enemy of humanity
had to step aside and accept becoming number two enemy of humanity. The
bane of the world is now called Osama bin Laden. The CIA taught him
everything he knows about terrorism: bin Laden, loved and armed by the US
government, was one of the principal 'freedom fighters' against Communism
in Afghanistan. Father Bush occupied the Vice Presidency when President
Reagan called these heroes 'the moral equivalents of the Founding Fathers.'
Hollywood agreed. They filmed Rambo 3: Afghani Muslims were the good guys.
Now, 13 years later, in the time of Son Bush, they are the worst of the bad

Henry Kissinger was one of the first to react to the recent tragedy. "Those
who provide support, financing, and inspiration to terrorists are as guilty
as the terrorists themselves," he intoned, words that Son Bush would repeat
hours later.

If that's how it is, the urgent need right now is to bomb Kissinger. He is
guilty of many more crimes than bin Laden or any terrorist in the world.
And in many more countries. He provided 'support, financing, and
inspiration" to state terror in Indonesia, Cambodia, Iran, South Africa,
Bangladesh, and all the South American countries that suffered the dirty
war of Plan Condor.

On September 11 1973, exactly 28 years before the fires of last week, the
Presidential Palace in Chile was stormed. Kissinger had written the epitaph
of Allende and Chilean democracy long before when he commented on the
results of the elections: "I don't see why we have to stand by and watch a
country go communist because of the irresponsibility of its own people."

A contempt for the people is one of many things shared by state and private
terror. For example, the ETA, an organization that kills people in the name
of independence in Basque Country, says through one of its spokespeople:
'Rights have nothing to do with majorities or minorities.'

There is much common ground between low- and high- tech terrorism, between
the terrorism of religious fanatics and that of market fanatics, that of
the hopeless and that of the powerful, that of the psychopath on the loose
and that of the cold-blooded uniformed professional. They all share the
disrespect for human life: the killers of the 5500 citizens under the Twin
Towers that fell like castles of dry sand-- and the killers of 200 000
Guatemalans, the majority of whom were indigenous, exterminated without
television or the newspapers of the world paying any attention. Those
Guatemalans were not sacrificed by any Muslim fanatic, but by terrorist
squads who received 'support, financing, and inspiration' from successive
US governments.

All these worshipers of death are in agreement as well on the need to
reduce social, cultural, and national differences to military terms. In the
name of Good against Evil, in the name of the One Truth, they resolve
everything by killing first and asking questions later. And by this method,
they strengthen the enemy they fight. It was the atrocities of the Sendero
Luminoso that gave President Fujimori the popular support he sought to
unleash a regime of terror and sell Peru for the price of a banana. It was
the atrocities of the US in the Middle East that prepared the ground for
the holy war of terrorism of Allah.

Although the leader of the Civilized World is pushing a new Crusade, Allah
is innocent of the crimes committed in his name. At the end of the day, God
did not order the Holocaust against the followers of Jehovah, nor did
Jehovah order the massacres of Sabrah and Shatila or the expulsion of
Palestinians from their land. Aren't Allah, God and Jehovah are, after all,
three names for the same divinity?

A tragedy of errors: nobody knows any more who is who. The smoke of the
explosions forms part of the much larger curtain of smoke that prevents all
of us from seeing clearly. From revenge to revenge, terrorism obliges us to
walk to our graves. I saw a photo, recently published, of graffiti on a
wall in NYC: "An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind."

The spiral of violence creates violence and also confusion: pain, fear,
intolerance, hatred, insanity. In Porto Alegre, at the beginning of this
year, Ahmed Ben Bella warned: 'This system, that has already made mad cows,
is making mad people too." And these mad people, mad from hate, act as the
power that created them.

A three year old child, named Luca, told me: "The world doesn't know where
its house is." He was looking at a map. He could have been looking at a